Sunday, March 8, 2009


There is probably no more undervalued component of business than organizational behavior, save for ethics. When managers, executives and owners set out to add (or sadly these days, subtract) personnel, the core objective is to find the most capable performers of tasks possible. No matter how much we believe in being über-talented individuals with über-reserves of awesomeness, the reality is that talent > awesomeness.

Now there’s no disputing the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace, in fact, this Scribe certainly admits to having a laughably higher EQ than IQ. Emotional intelligence shifts morale for better or worse, allowing or discouraging employees to utilize their full skill sets. However, nothing will cost an employer, regardless of size and scope more revenue, profits, prestige and clients than incompetence or negligence of duties.

Constantly, there’s chatter about teams bringing in ‘players of good character’, ‘savvy veterans’, ‘lockerroom guys’ and my favorites, ‘winners’ and ‘leaders’. You’d be led to believe that every team is like the scene in Kindergarten Cop as ‘Ah-nold’… err, John Kimble has to give discipline to a classroom full of rambunctious four and five year olds.

Yet, for those of us who have been around these teams in some capacity, this isn’t the case, at least while on the job. Despite the singular focus of becoming an elite athlete that they all exhibit and the transgressions that a few carry with them, there are such diverse personalities throughout every roster that the irascible tend to be offset, if not overwhelmed by the affable, reserved and cautious.

That’s the intrigue of Terrell Owens’ fourth stop in his eventual Hall of Fame career. In one of the most surprising acquisitions in recent NFL history, the Buffalo Bills signed the wideout to a one-year deal this weekend. Surprising not in that he was signed or as ensuing details emerge that his agent Drew Rosenhaus may have been 100% right about the interest around the league, but in that T.O. is actually in Buffalo.

Much has been made about his previous stops and deservingly so. His feuds with team personnel are NFL parables on the relationships between coaches and players, between teammates and between players and management. Yet, as many have and will continue to write about until the end of time, the tantalizing talents he possesses, no matter how much of a pain in the ass he may be, are hard for any struggling team to pass up. It’s akin to what most of us go through in our professional and/or academic lives.

When a company brings in ‘that guy’ or has to deal with the affectionately-labeled Dragon Lady in order to jumpstart productivity, the immediate reaction may be moans and groans. This person’s well-chronicled history – be it through news of him or her being a change agent at other firms or word of mouth of interactions with industry colleagues – will present challenges to the current employees. How will this person screw up our lives may be the initial thought, but will this person bring us to the promised land – greater profits, improved quality of work, revamped company culture, stability, etc. – is the fundamental issue that all will consider in some degree.

And so like many others for the next few months, we’ll ask if Ralph Wilson made the right move for his team by bringing in someone considered a locker-room leper in San Francisco, jaded and jealous in Philadelphia and a distrustful distraction in Dallas. We’ll wonder if the mercenary-like one year deal will remind T.O. how much of a precarious position he is now in because of his controversies over the course of his career; that a team will rather use him for short-term gains and force his combative persona to earn a long-term commitment.

We’ll wonder not only about his relationship with Trent Edwards (and for argument’s sake, current backup J.P. Losman), but with Lee Evans, Marshawn Lynch and the rest of his new teammates.

We’ll wonder if Owens’ arrival really helps the Bills supplant AFC East division champion Miami, the defensively-retooled New York Jets and a Patriots team with Tom Brady’s imminent return to the gridiron.

We’ll wonder if Wilson and head coach Dick Jauron can convince him that at least for 2009 that he can trust them to deal with him fairly.

Most of all, we’ll wonder if Owens – despite having a few good years of elite play at the age of 35 – finally gets it or is truly a virus that can cripple the structure and identity of a franchise, as was the case in the past.

Say What?!?!: An interesting take from Jason Cole from Yahoo! Sports.

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